By Lorraine & Leon Bent –
Continuing from where we left off yesterday, let’s examine how we invariably hurt the one we love. Conflict is an inescapable, integral and inevitable part of a marriage relationship. Until we accept this and put our conflicts to creative use, our chance of ever achieving enduring love in marriage is slim. Unless we face our conflicts realistically, and resolve them, true joy in marriage will only last as long as we fool ourselves, by sweeping our differences under the carpet. However, it won’t be long before cracks appear in a conjugal alliance.
Conflict brings to the fore that a marriage thrives only at the foot of the Cross of Christ. So, do not fight fire with fire, rather cling to the Crucified Lord. It is only perennial sacrificial love that gives life and love to the other partner in marriage. Love costs nothing less than everything! If this effort is mutual, “lovers” will fly free and high like a scintillating, titillating kite in the sky.
Also read Fr Antic Santosh‘s article on Worldwide Marriage Encounter: One Weekend Can Change Everything!
Disagreements heat up and become conflict. We are all familiar with the hot emotions – irritation, frustration, exasperation and hostility – in a word, anger. All married couples have tasted the fire and pungency of this ugly emotion: the love-anger cycle. Every pinch that hurts in marital love is, in reality, a choice point! In opting for the salutatory, over and over again, in spite of not feeling loved by the nuptial partner, and in not wanting to love in return, one grows in intimacy and oneness. Rage can be expressed creatively in a way that transforms us. Then, fury will become our Pegasus, the winged horse on which we take flight into bliss. Never waster a good conflict! Conflict-resolution is a blessing and can make warring partners fall into one another’s warm arms, in genuine forgiveness and reconciliation; they can even go further, and be “locked in naked embrace.” There is nothing more poignant, more touching, more healing. Then, in a kind of messianic pretension and metaphor, coitus becomes an act of eucharistic food, a kind of manna that, keeps a marriage nourished and fiercely alive!
Tuck this gem into the folds of your unconscious! Touch, cuddling, caressing and holding – a positive kind of wrestling, is a must! The art of non-sexual, safe, soft, light, gentle, warm touching every day, brings the miraculous touch of Jesus into marriages. Touch and affirmation is a direct, unmistakable, non-verbal and ideal way of communicating matrimonial love. Then, the home turns into a sanctuary, not a torture house.
We must become “wounded healers,” because in our hurt lies the source of our healing. The very change you want so much in your spouse must be wrought in you first. The bird with broken and mended wing soars the highest. Where you stumble and fall, there you find your treasure. Keep the faith, “lovers in love!” Know that your goal is one worth working, cherishing and fighting for. Hang in there!
The Love Circle
Every member of a Love Circle needs to hear Erik Erikson’s words: “We welcome you, the world welcomes you. We appreciate and delight in your being and take joy in your becoming.” The time is ripe for couples to be part of a “Love Circle” – the gift of Marriage Encounter to the world! A family of words will suggest its true meaning: Hearth, Hospitality, Charity, Celebration and Community. Regular attendance and participation is all-important. In an inviting and non-threatening atmosphere, one is no longer “marooned in a blizzard,” one can give an honest account of what one feels and invite others into one’s inner world. One’s need for belonging is met and one’s self-image is enhanced. One gains a sense of worth that comes only when one’s name and story are known, for which one requires a small, closely-knit, listening Group of like-minded married couples. A Love Circle helps a sanctified twosome hold one another in their hearts, simply because spouses are challenged, pursued and nurtured, and the untamed landscape of the past is reinvented as Paradise Regained! Our personal experience of more than 15 years in a Love Circle prompts us to say such couples are fully alive with God’s glory.
Love Play of the Trinity
Sexual passion (not necessarily the Sexual Act), is the intermingling of intimacy and grace. It is passionate-devotion and devoted-passion: a “dwelling within” the other. Such a couple symbolizes the “Love Play” of the Trinity, which brings about an aura of holiness. It is a well nigh total reversal of egoistic tendencies; a heart transplant! Sexual oneness gives a matrimonial relationship a mystical tinge. It is prayer! It is a unique form of that great Christian virtue – mercy, which makes couples see one another as whole! Like the Triune God, they are radically separate, yet one, and “a co-equal unity-in-relatedness.” The vowed pair has the multiplicity of God’s self-expression!
Partners such as these make love attractive; they make God visible and tangible and draw other couples to Him. In marriages such as these, partners say: “Take me – I’m all yours! Let me empty myself for you! I will hold back nothing of myself.” This is sexual ecstasy, typically Trinitarian! Little flashes of lightsome moments, timeless “holy instants.” At the centre of each partner, there is an unquenchable light, and the sensuous spontaneity and spirituality of divine dancing. And, in this faith they fly!
“Why, we ask, are the best married people hiding their light under a bushel? Is it not time that some of them emerged from the seclusion of their happy, peaceful homes, and began to ‘sell’ their marriage to a generation rapidly becoming cynical and disillusioned about it?”
And, this gold nugget! Indeed, time is fleeting. Seize the day, the hour, the very minute, nay the melting moment, to make your covenantal togetherness captivating with fragrant charm! Our prayer: “Married couples, may we all love one another and fellow pilgrims, as Jesus loved us!”
Lorraine and Leon Bent have been an integral part of Marriage Encounter, India, for the past 36 years. They have been “Team Couple,” Unit-Coordinators for Mumbai and “Editor Couple” for ME’s Newsletter (India) for 10 years.